It's Rocchetta Mattei, one of the best castles in Bologna and Emilia Romagna.
Follow me inside?
The new medicine of Cesare Mattei
Cesare Mattei was born in Bologna in 1809 to a rich family.
He founded a bank, he was a Parliament deputy and a close friend of the Pope.
The key event which marked his life and led to the building of Rocchetta Mattei was his mother's death.
That event produced in Cesare a deep mistrust of traditional medicine. Then he studied and create an alternative medicine that he called electro homeopathy.
Electro homoeopathy is based on granules enhanced with electricity, which Mattei believed to be able to capture in his fluids.
His purpose was to restore the balance between the body's electric charges and bring the painful part to a neutral state.
The success of these treatments was enormous and immediate. He sold it around the world, especially in China and India.
Mattei founded the first drug multinational company, even mentioned by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov.
The turbulent history of Rocchetta Mattei
In 1850 Cesare Mattei purchased the land where stood the ruins of the ancient fortress of Savignano was.
In the same year, he started to build there the castle that would have been called Rocchetta.
He settled in 1859 and personally followed the construction.
After Cesare's death, Rocchetta Mattei didn't live a happy time. During the Second World War, it was occupied and severely damaged by German troops.
In the 60's it became a restaurant and hotel and closed in 1989, with the owner's death.
Rocchetta Mattei reopened to the public in 2015.
The symbols of Rocchetta Mattei
Nothing at Rocchetta Mattei is what it seems.
Copernican's planets constellation inspired the design of Rocchetta Mattei.
The clock tower is the centre (that would be the Sun) and the halls are the planets that revolve around it.
At the entrance a statue of a lion, a hippogriff (yes Harry Potter's fans, definitely him), and harpies greet you.
Christian, pagan and astrological, and esoteric symbols and references are endless.
Inside an Esher's painting
Room after room the styles change.
Pass through the arabesque representation of Alhambra's courtyard in Granada, to a pentagonal room where Mattei used to receive his patients.
After the entrance, you meet the room of the 90s.
It's there where Mattei expected to celebrate his 90's birthday with other 90 people, also 90 years old. Too bad he died earlier, at the age of 87 (a lot for that time).
But the most surprising place is the chapel which houses Mattei's tomb. It's a miniature of Cordoba's cathedral in Spain, with striped columns and a decorated ceiling.
From the slanting columns to the used materials, you'd feel inside an Esher's painting.
The hidden diamond
Among the thousand secrets of Rocchetta Mattei, there's also a diamond.
Legend says it's kept in one of the pyramids that make up Mattei's lab ceiling.
No one knows if it's really there, but if you decide to get married in Rocchetta Mattei (yes you can!), you can celebrate your love between the mysteries of a unique place.
Why visit Rocchetta Mattei
With the beautiful village of Dozza, this castle is one of my favourite day trips from Bologna. It's just one hour by car from the city centre and in the middle of the Apennine hills.
If you visit Bologna with kids they will love the mysteries and secrets of this place.
Strada Provinciale 62, 40030 Grizzana Morandi BO
Tel: 051 6730335 - 3661433941
Weekend 9:30am-1pm 3pm-5:30pm with reservation required.